38. Tim’s debate.

How dare you!
Greta Thunberg.

1. At twelve noon, Tim Brunero hosted a debate between those in favour of Australia becoming a republic, and those who aren’t. Unfortunately, there was a disagreement in how the meeting should be conducted. The debaters were not interested in taking comments or questions from the audience, as is tradition at Speakers’ Corner, and some members of the audience were not interested in letting them get away with it. In short, the two oratory styles didn’t mix, and as a result there was resentment and irritation on both sides.

One of the skills a good speaker should have is to ‘know your audience, and speak to them accordingly’. However, your scribe got the impression that the speakers had given no thought to their the audience beforehand, and that they would have delivered the same speeches regardless of who they were talking to. Had the audience been all nuns, or all police, or all Nepalese goat herders, the speakers would have delivered the same speeches in the same way. (Though a couple of the speakers did begin to adapt.)

Perhaps your scribe should clear something up: the hecklers who visit Speakers’ Corner each week are not the irrational rabble that the regular speakers paint them to be. Yes, there are one or two hecklers who are as mad as a hose let go, but the majority are intelligent, well educated and well read. They have something to say and their contribution to a topic is invaluable. I’m not suggesting that today the debaters should have given the hecklers free rein, but I am suggesting that their insular debating style does not suit Speakers’ Corner. At Speakers’ Corner, the hecklers do not come in order to be passively fed other people’s ideas, like sheep coming to the farmer’s trough; instead, they come to contribute and to keep the speaker honest. Today was a clash of expectations.

I should add that the debating speakers should be grateful that most of the regular hecklers mercifully let them be.

However, apart from that difference in expectations, the meeting went well and ran at a brisk pace. There was a healthy attendance, some good points made, free sausages in bread rolls, and no apparent logistical hiccups. Tim Brunero does know how to organise a good meeting.

2. Here are some of the topics discussed after 2pm:
– Does pornography do harm to the people who watch it?

– What can people do to avoid being lonely?

– I am better than no one, and no one is better than me. Is that true?

– Why do we need to burn the Mona Lisa?

– Why is the green plastic “grass” you find is sushi trays proof that humankind has no hope in the future?

3. Today’s unusual critter in our Unusual Creature Series is the Island Fox, native to islands off California. This one has expressed only disdain for our Facebook page.

4. This is getting pathetic, Mr B.